Although it hasn’t been mentioned yet, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox matchup awfully well for a trade.
By Gregg Cambareri
The New York Yankees still need another legitimate arm in their starting rotation, preferably from the left side. The Chicago White Sox could use an outfield upgrade. On paper, these two teams match up well for a trade.
The offseason shopping list for most teams is just about complete, but the next few weeks should see most teams filling out rosters for good before the start of spring training.
The Yankees need another front of the rotation arm who can give them 200+ innings of quality ball. Look no further than White Sox starter Jose Quintana. He’s left handed, something the Yankee rotation lacks (come on, who knows what C.C. Sabathia has left), and slots in nicely as the team’s number two starter.
Quintana has delivered three straight seasons of at least 200 innings, while maintaining an ERA no higher than 3.51 over that span. He’s also on a team friendly deal, earning just over $21 million covering the next 3 seasons, with 2 options for 2019-20 valued at $10.5 million per season. That kind of money is more than a bargain in today’s game for a number 2.
His relatively young age (27 next week), modest salary, and successful track record mean he won’t come cheaply. The White Sox also look to contend next season rather than rebuild, so they’ll require impact players already at or near the major league level.
Okay, so the White Sox aren’t desperate for help in the corner outfield, but an upgrade is in order if they intend to compete with the defending champion Royals, reloaded Tigers, young and upcoming Twins, and pitching rich Indians. Melky Cabrera had a solid but unspectacular (1.4 WAR) 2015. He could easily slide over from left field to right to make way for Gardner. The AL Central has no weak team, so the White Sox will be looking to put out the best roster possible.
Avisail Garcia has not become the impact bat the White Sox had hoped, posting sub-replacement level production thus far in his career (WAR not above 0 in any season, zero!). He’s not known for his speed or defense, so he hasn’t provided them with much value. He’s still only 24, but he looks more like a fourth outfielder at this point. A change of scenery might do him some good, but the bottom line is that the White Sox need better production from their corner outfield to contend.
Gardner would give the ChiSox a great 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup. He and center fielder Adam Eaton both post solid OBP numbers and run well. They would be great table setters at the top of the lineup, and can cover plenty of ground in the outfield. Gardner is owed 36 million over the next three years, but the White Sox shouldn’t have much issue adding around $7 million in net payroll.
To get something, you have to give something, though. That means parting with highly regarded catching prospect Gary Sanchez. The White Sox acquired Alex Avila this offseason, but he isn’t their long term answer behind the plate. After seeing what the Atlanta Braves were able to net for Shelby Miller, a premium prospect like Sanchez would probably be required to make this work.
The White Sox have also been linked with Yoenis Cespedes this offseason; if their pursuit of the Cuban slugger falls through, a trade for Gardner could be in play.
There are also other variables that need to be accounted for. If the Yankees do trade Garnder, are they comfortable giving ample playing time to newly acquired Aaron Hicks? If the White Sox lose Quintana, does that mean they pursue someone like Yovani Gallardo to fill the hole in the rotation? Those are tough questions for their respective GM’s to answer, in all fairness. Obviously, they’ll have to evaluate which problem is easier to address.
But until spring training is upon us, New York and Chicago should be open for business.